Manuel Antonio is one of Costa Rica’s most popular beach towns. This is the place where everyone takes vacations and, in the main town, you’ll find very few cheap options. The pristine beaches, soaring temperatures, and famous national park all draw in hundreds of thousands of tourists per year. Even though it may have more tourists than other places and development has gotten a little out of control in the last few years, Manuel Antonio still has fabulous diving, nightlife, a beautiful national park with plenty of wildlife, awesome beaches, and sport-fishing, it’s clear why this area remains so popular.
Top 10 Things to See & Do
Manuel Antonio National Park
This park has a combination of rain forest, beaches, and coral reefs. Increased tourism has driven some wildlife away from the area, but you can still get up close to capuchins, basilisks, iguanas, and squirrel monkeys. You can also sunbathe and snorkel at the park’s many beaches.
Sit on the Beach
The number one thing to do here is to sit on the wide white sand beach and get a tan. Despite the increases in crowds over the last few years, the beach has remained clean and beautiful. In January, there are good waves for body surfing, and the beach’s westerly view means beautiful sunsets.
A sport-fishing trip is one of the highlights of many people’s Costa Rica vacation. These trips are expensive, costing around 266,600 CRC for an inshore day trip, 319,900 CRC for an offshore package. That being said, you’ll have the chance to fish for barracuda, marlin, tuna, snapper, and many species.
There’s no shortage of zip-lining opportunities in Costa Rica, and Manuel Antonio is another great spot to try it. La Selvita offers a series of 16 lines, the longest being almost half a mile in length. Expect to pay around 41,000 CRC.
A 30-minute boat ride from Quepos will take you to the jungle island of Damas. The surf is great here, but the main attractions are the mangrove swamps. Wildlife on the island includes boas, caimans, various species of birds, and on rare occasions, the silky anteater. Tours begin around 30,000 CRC per person.
Manuel Antonio isn’t as well known for its surfing in comparison to Jaco Beach or Hermosa, but the breaks here are ideal for beginners. More experienced surfers can find better waves by traveling just a short distance outside of the city and Quepos. Beginner and intermediate lessons usually last around 3 hours and cost around 36,000 CRC.
Local diving companies frequent over 20 dive sites around the coast. You’ll dive amongst volcanic formations, a beautiful reef, and see all kinds of tropical fish. Dives start around 80,000 CRC for a two tank dive. Getting certified in the area will cost around 77,000 CRC.
Sunsets are amazing!
The sky usually turns an amazing pink and orange at night and you might get to hear humpback whales and see dolphins along the side of the boat. I highly recommend taking boat cruises, especially if you are with a group.
White water rafting
The class III and IV rapids of the Savegre River make for an adrenaline-packed day. You’ll pass through the jungle and see toucans, osprey, parrots, and kingfishers as you make your way down the river. Experienced rafters should go on the Naranjo River trip as the rapids are a lot faster. Expect to pay around 55,000 for the day per person.
Watch whales and dolphins
This tour will bring you to some of the most beautiful spots along the Pacific Coast. If you come at the right time of year (November-March and July-September), you’ll have the chance to see Humpback and Pilot whales, one of the best experiences that nature has to offer. If conditions permit, you’ll also be able to stop for a swim in a spot near some dolphins. Expect to pay around 48,000 CRC per person.